Monthly Archives: January 2019

Writing Your Family Story

My Dad and me

Fathers and sons can be incredibly close, the connection between them the most powerful bond in the world.

But when I was growing up, I was actually closer to my mom–because Dad was almost never home, instead consumed by his business, a popular men’s and boy’s clothing store.

We understood his absences, but I think he regretted it. In fact, this beautiful letter from Dad to me recently fell out of a scrapbook, and said it all:

Backstage at ABC studios

His apparent guilt was truly unwarranted because I still felt his love in a myriad of ways: The affectionate brush of his hand across my cheek;  bending down to teach me how to make a tie; taking me skiing on Sundays; the way he carefully fitted my clothes at his store; getting me my first car and driving me to college; and standing backstage with me years later at a TV appearance.

As the years passed, and my career as an author developed, he was incredibly proud: “Glenn,” he’d tell me, “I don’t know how you do it. You’re great.” He was always encouraging me, strategizing about business deals, believing in me, providing that magic potion called unconditional love.

Toward the end of his life, when he was almost 98, as a tough-minded Marine whose slogan was “adapt and overcome,” he was still working out at the gym and driving his car, getting back and forth to the parking lot by using a power chair. A total inspiration. We talked almost every day. And without him now, left behind is a huge vacuum that will never be filled.

Joseph and Jared Cohen

I really miss him. So seeing his letter reminded me of a brilliant new book that captures the depth of a father son relationship. It’s called:  Write Father, Write Son: A Bond-Building Journey. It’s a series of poignant letters from father to son, written over a period of a decade, filled with fatherly advice and words of wisdom, messages from the heart.

The attentive Dad,  journalist Joseph Cohen, shows his son, Jared, how to develop as a man, writing candid notes that provide takeaway values and lessons. As each year passes, Joe  skillfully steers an adolescent boy into becoming a sensitive young man of integrity. Every boy in America needs a Dad like Joe.

Beyond the book, Joe has also co-created a revolutionary movement called Empowered Fathers in Action, a cutting edge non-profit designed to impact the connection of fathers and sons, and in the process empower young men to contribute to their communities. With a solid relationship to Dad, they feel better about themselves, and thus happier in life.

Christopher Salem and Davey Williams

In this, Joe has partnered with renowned prosperity coach, Christopher Salem, the author of Master Your Inner Critic,  who is the CEO and Co-Founder of EFA. Also on board is speaker and coach Davey Williams, Jr. the charismatic Director of Community Relations for the EFA. It’s a powerful trio of talent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why am I so interested? As we all know, boys today are bombarded with social media and impossible expectations, crushed by a competitive vibe that begins in kindergarten.

Through it all, the anchor of Dad can be profoundly stabilizing.In fact, one principal reason I support EFA is their commitment to reducing bullying incidents and decreasing the rates of teenage suicide and school shootings across the world.

What could be more important than that? I can tell you that, as a kid, I was traumatized in school by bullies, often humiliated in gym class, so I totally relate to the power of fatherly support, which can boost  self-confidence and lead to better self-esteem. The masculine influence is vital.

Joe, Chris, and Davey are true pioneers in a movement that will touch every father and son in America, motivating us all to watch closely over those we love the most.

An Autobiography To Be Remembered

Sometimes you can write an entire book about just ONE friend, and I know the perfect person–the ebullient Bud Klauber, a 96-year-old who is the youngest person I know.

He’s nicknamed Broadway Bud by those familiar with his passion for theater, which started in the l920’s! (And he’s not missed a single major production since.) His other passions range from art and music to baseball and travel (especially cruises, more than 20 of them), not to mention volunteering for decades on the GMHC AIDS Hotline.

In short, he’s thrown himself into life and he’s done it with style.

Having spoken to him almost every day for the last 20 years, I can tell you that he’s almost always in a great mood. That’s why I once wrote an article for Family Circle magazine titled WHAT MAKES HAPPY PEOPLE HAPPY.

In it, Bud shares the true secrets to happiness, which include gratitude and passionate involvement in life, always concentrating on the positive:

“We all have more gifts than defects,” he says wisely. “The secret is maximizing them.”

As a retired fashion executive who worked with U.S. First Ladies, he’s typically dapper in a snappy bow-tie and a wide smile. Although he has faced divorce, alcoholism, and a bout with cancer, the native New Yorker has an upbeat, uncomplaining nature.

 

 

“Keeping my attitude up is from training,” he says. “It’s something I learned at an early age from my mother, a very practical, grateful woman, who lived to be 97. Neither she nor my father would tolerate much complaining. So I wasn’t brought up with pessimism or a lot of whining.”

On a cruise reading KATIE!

Happiness, he says, is fostered by being around those who have a positive outlook, which helps exorcise the demons that can bring anybody down–resentment, anger, guilt, or shame.

Bud’s son Ricky and grandson Jason

“I actually police those demons, and don’t allow them to penetrate my soul. Instead, wherever I go, I’ve got my eyes open for a dose of smiles.

Just yesterday I saw a baby on the street was beaming up at me from her carriage. It was just as if I was getting a huge dose of positive thinking from this smiling infant, who had no clue what happened yesterday, no regrets or worries like we do.

Grandson Jason and Pop

Happily Married, Bud & Kim

“In order for me to be happy, I feel grateful for what I have and don’t pine for what I don’t have.

“I have a lot of younger friends who keep me vital and energized. That’s key. I also have my husband, Kim, the foundation of my happiness. He is pure giving, unconditional generosity and loyalty–a person with real empathy.

“I also have a very close relationship with my son, Ricky, my lovely daughter-in-law Ryn, as pictured above, and my grandson, Jason. And now, I’m even a great-grandfather now to adorable Theodora.

All this keeps my mind churning and learning. Sure, I’m human and I have mood swings–life isn’t Cinderella.”

Indeed, there were some very rough years: “When I was much younger, alcohol used to take away some of the pain that resulted from my not being able to achieve goals I had imagined for myself. There was also a broken marriage and work pressures, leading to panic attacks and depression.

“But all this changed with sobriety. My confidence and my interest in other people skyrocketed. I became more alert, more industrious. I came out of my funk and let go of the ‘poor me,’ and stopped obsessing on things I had no control over.

“Now the simplest things make me happy. I focus on listening to great music. Talking to friends. I turn to flowers, to Central Park, to a song that recalls a happy moment, to meditating, praying—and to ALANON, the 12-Step program that totally turned my life around.

“Even when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I didn’t shut down at all and continued my activities. I was grateful it was discovered early and underwent radiation and chemotherapy with confidence. The cancer is now undetectable.

Bud and Glenn

“All in all, I don’t feel 96. I feel GOOD! So the chronological number doesn’t matter to me. I handle loss realistically. When my contemporaries get sick or pass away, it’s very sad.

“But I’m still functioning and can’t let it get me down. It’s just another sign to maximize on today, to make every minute count!”

The Master of Creating Your Brand

American entrepreneur and business executive Kevin Harrington, the original shark on ABC’s Shark Tank, has been a big fish for decades.

The bestselling author of Put A Shark In Your Tank has heard more than 50,000 pitches on every product from a toilet-training system for cats to a “cougar” energy drink, a “Wake ‘n’ Bacon” bedside grill, and an erotic lip balm.

As the pioneer of the infomercial industry and master of the pitch, the mega-investor has launched more than 500 winning products resulting in cumulative total sales of over $4 billion, with twenty of them racking up sales of over $100 million each.

Not bad for the son of an Army pilot who grew up in Cincinnati mowing lawns, lugging garbage and delivering newspapers.

Told by his dad at age 15 to “hatch some extra income streams,” the fledgling mogul came up with one cash-generating venture after another, demonstrating an innate flair for sales and marketing.

By age 18, he was running his own company that sold heating and cooling systems, and soon had a staff of 25, with $1 million in annual revenues.

A pivotal moment occurred as Harrington was watching late-night TV in 1984, when the sudden appearance of static color test bars on the screen after the regular programming ended triggered a thought that would change everything.

Why not buy that dead air space at a low cost and advertise products on it? Driven by what he later called his Eureka moment, he began scouting trade shows and devouring mail order catalogues, hunting for million-dollar products that could be sold on cable TV.

Soon after, he was in the studio producing dozens of 30-minute infomercials. And the rest was history.

Who can ever forget Kevin’s phenomenal blockbusters such as the Ginsu knife,
the FoodSaver, The Great Wok of China, and
the Daily Mixer?

Not to mention his celebrity brands which have included Jack LaLanne, Tony Little, Cee Lo Green, Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, 50 Cent, Frankie Avalon, Paula Abdul, Montel Williams, Hulk Hogan, George Foreman, and Kris and Bruce Jenner.

A few years back, Kevin and I worked on a book project together, and I saw instantly the traits he shares with all the entrepreneurial greats:

He’s laser-focused, energetic, resilient, and never ceases to pivot in new directions, intuitively sensing a need in the market.

One of the secrets of success, he believes, is CURIOSITY OVERLOAD—the drive to be ambitiously inquisitive.

“I always say that one secret to developing any business or brand is leaving your zip code, i.e. getting OUT of your office and into the marketplace.

“You’ve got to EXPOSE yourself to new trends and information, to people you’ve never met, and to business opportunities you couldn’t possibly imagine.

“So like an archaeologist, I’m always out there–excavating, doing fieldwork, and digging for the right knowledge, contacts, and product ideas or strategies to advance my business.”

And you don’t have to be rich to succeed. It’s innate:

“If you dropped me down in the middle of a big city with no money, no business, no nothing—and told me that within 48 hours I’d be dead unless I got a deal, I’d have one within those two days.

“I would have identified business opportunities, acquired partners and advisors to support me, raised capital and negotiated deals, and got it done, similar to what people do on Celebrity Apprentice.

“That’s just me. In short, my motto is that opportunity is literally everywhere!”